ROXBURY — At Tuesday night’s nearly
two-hour informational meeting, about 70 people learned that
blasting begins Wednesday morning on Record Hill Wind LLC‘s $120
million, 22-turbine wind farm project.

It will be a single blast at 10:30 a.m.
at a depth of 10 feet by a Maine Drilling and Blasting crew in what’s
locally called the Martin Point area of Mine Notch Road off Route 120
during a road-widening project, according to Maine Drilling and
Blasting construction manager Steve Blaisdell.

He said any project blasting, which
will occur daily Monday through Friday, will be one mile from any

“We are at least 17 times farther
away than typical pre-blast limits,” Blaisdell said.

Wednesday morning’s blasting area will
be covered by heavy rubber mats to prevent damage to trees in the
immediate area.

“Your houses and wells will not be
affected by any blasting,” Record Hill Wind principal Rob Gardiner
said and Blaisdell acknowledged.

Blaisdell said that if people want to
be called ahead of time about when blasting will occur, they can
contact Record Hill Wind or Maine Drilling and Blasting and ask to be
placed on a call list.

When asked if they were aware of fall
hunting in the area, Blaisdell said hunters should also call ahead
about blasting schedules.

He then explained their blast warning
system, which consists of marine-like air-horn whistle signals that
are audible up to a half mile away.

“When we blow three horn whistles,
that means blasting will occur in three minutes,” Blaisdell said.
“Two signals are one minute and one long signal means ‘All clear.’”

Blasting will only occur during daytime
hours, not early in the morning or at night, Gardiner said.

After the first few weeks of mostly
once-a-day blasting, remaining blasting will occur atop the ridgeline
of Partridge and Flathead peaks and Record Hill.

“If you have traditionally hunted
along the ridgeline, this is not the year to follow that tradition,”
Gardiner said to laughter. “Find another site to hunt. You can
probably come back next year.”

Blaisdell said blast depths will
average 8 to 10 feet.

“We’re not going to scar the
mountains and take huge cuts out of it, we’ll be doing surface
blasts,” Blaisdell said.

Blasting work for turbine foundations
only goes down five feet.

To further alleviate concerns about
Roxbury Pond (also called Ellis Pond and Silver Lake), Gardiner said,
“There isn’t going to be any effect on the lake or pond at all, I
guarantee you.”

“There isn’t going to be any problem
that gets to the lake,” he said of possible erosion and blast
materials. “We respect the fact that people love Roxbury Pond and
we will not damage Roxbury Pond and we will have documentation that
we didn’t damage Roxbury Pond.”

Patrick A. DeFilipp, senior project
manager for general contractor Reed and Reed Wind Power Services of
Woolwich, opened the meeting, providing an overview of the project.

There will be a company field office on
the Mine Notch Road, which will be gated for security reasons. The
road is being widened to 34 feet to accommodate 450-ton
cranes which are 32-feet wide.

A road will also be built off Mine
Notch Road atop the ridge to provide access to turbine sites.

Foundation work will start Nov. 1 on
the Turbine 22 site and progress northward until winter conditions
stop work, said DeFilipp, a Mexico High School graduate.

The turbines themselves will be shipped
into Searsport harbor in mid July 2010.

The huge rotors and tower sections will
then be trucked to Route 2 in Farmington and follow Route 2 through
Dixfield and Mexico, up Route 17 to Frye Crossover Road and onto
Route 120 to Mine Notch Road.

DeFilipp said they haven’t yet decided
whether Dragon Products Co. of Canton or Coleman Concrete of Bethel
will be hired to provide an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 cubic yards of
concrete for the project.

During a discussion about using local
contractors, Gardiner and DeFilipp both said the possibility exists
that area contractors might be hired, but only for smaller jobs.

That seemed to upset a handful of
people who said had they known this, they would have voted against
the project.

“We want to hire local when possible,
but the big pieces (of money) will go to the big companies,”
Gardiner said. “We will try to have small pieces for local
contractors when we can.”

DeFilipp said heavy equipment
earthmover Sargent Corp. of Bangor is handling all site work.

An operations and maintenance facility
will also be built off Route 120, on which DeFilipp said local
contractors could bid.

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Record Hill Wind LLC principal Rob Gardiner, left, watches a crowd of about 70 people at Tuesday night’s informational meeting while Reed and Reed Wind Power Services senior project manager Patrick DeFilipp provides an overview of Record Hill Wind’s wind farm project in Roxbury. Maps showing placements of 22 turbines are on the wall behind DeFilipp.

This map shows the placement of Record Hill Wind LLC’s 22 wind turbines atop Partridge and Flathead peaks and part of Record Hill in Roxbury. The north end of the project is at right. The curving line coming in at top left is Mine Notch Road, which will be widened to 34 feet to allow passage of 450-ton cranes that are 32 feet wide.

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